Indian newspapers yesterday trumpeted the launch of a new long-range, nuclear--capable missile as a sign of New Delhi’s emerging power, while others warned about misplaced triumphalism.
“India goes ballistic,” read the headline in the English-language tabloid Mail Today over a full-page photo of the Agni V missile lifting off on Thursday from its launch site in eastern India.
“The entire nation joined the defence scientists ... in cheering the path-breaking feat,” it said. “And India proudly declared that it had taken a giant stride in security preparedness by developing a strategic deterrent against potential threats.”
“Missile Muscle” said the front-page headline on the Indian Express broadsheet, while the Times of India declared that the “Agni V roars into elite ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] club.”
India had “yanked open the door to the super exclusive ICBM club that counts only the US, Russia, China, France and the UK as its members.”
ICBMs are the most advanced and long-range missile systems, but the Agni V will need to increase its range to 5,500km from its current 5,000km and be further tested to be classified in this category.
In the Hindi-language media, the daily Hindustan’s headline read “Jai Hind” (Hail India), while the Dainik Jagran said “Half the world in our range.”
“Agni V is the latest product of Brand India. The successful test is now a cause of worry for our enemies because they will have to think a hundred times before attacking us,” the Dainik Jagran said.
The Agni V was test-fired on Thursday morning in a 20-minute flight that took it southeast over the Bay of Bengal and then to its pre-determined landing position in the southern Indian Ocean, officials said.
It was tracked by ships along its route and was declared a success by India’s state defense hardware developer and the government.
If confirmed in further tests, the three-section, 50-tonne missile will be capable of delivering a one-tonne nuclear warhead anywhere in China, giving India a crucial deterrent against its more advanced neighbor.
However, commentator Manoj Joshi, writing in the Mail Today, said India should not take the claims of success by the defense establishment at face value.
“These are all meaningless and needlessly boastful claims,” he wrote, referring to comments from officials on Thursday about the Agni V being a “game changer and a technological marvel.”